The first thing that you want when you wake up is your steaming cup of joe, with some sugar added to it. Add to this your cereal bowl and your cup of tea to work that’s three packs of sugar (three or nine tsps), which is 144 calories, already. And, it’s only the start of your day.
When pregnant, there is a lot of concern as to what constitutes your diet and nutrition. One of them revolves around the intake of sugar and more specifically artificial sweeteners. Many women opt out when expecting, but then they replace it with sugar-loaded drinks and beverages. So, how much sugar is safe and are artificial sweeteners the only option?
As per the FDA, most of the artificial sweeteners available in the market are safe for consumption during pregnancy. However, the balance goes awry when expecting moms replace more nutritious foods and beverages with foods that contain these artificial sweetening agents.
There are two categories of sweeteners, nutritive (contains calories) and non-nutritive (without calories).
Nutritive Sweeteners And Pregnancy
Sweeteners like table sugar contain empty calories, which means they contribute calories to the diet, but do not bring any kind of nutritive value to food. They can be used in moderation. However, if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, diabetes mellitus or insulin resistance, your healthcare provider may ask you to limit their intake further. Nutritive sweeteners include sugar, honey, corn sugar, fructose, sucrose, and maltose.
Also, most women are happy with picking up items that are labelled “sugar-free”, but sadly, these foods are laced with something called sugar alcohol. What are they? These are technically not sugars, but do contain calories, which can be converted to fat. Time to read the label again ladies, and this time more carefully. Steer clear of any items that mention sorbitol, xylitol, isomalt, mannitol, and hydrogenated starch in them.
Non-Nutritive Sweeteners And Pregnancy
Very little research has been done regarding the non-nutritive sweeteners and their effects on pregnancy. However, some of them are safe to be used, especially when you want to satisfy your sweet tooth:
Stevia Or Rebaudioside A:
Recently, stevia has managed to garner a lot of attention as a natural artificial sweetener. It is being extensively used in soft drinks and juices.
Sunett Or Acesulfame Potassium:
Usually a common ingredient in baked goodies, Sunett is safe if used in moderation during the gestation period.
Aspartame Or Equal/Nutrasweet:
One of the most common forms of artificial sweeteners available in the market, aspartame is ineffective in heat or in liquid form for too long. It is often found in soft drinks, desserts, gelatin, pudding mixes, breakfast cereals, chewing gum, etc. The good news, it is safe to be used during pregnancy and even while nursing.
Warning: Aspartame should never be used by anyone who suffers from PKU (Phenylketonuria), rare liver disease or pregnant women who has high levels of phenylalanine in their blood.
Splenda Or Sucralose:
ne of the safest artificial sweeteners, Splenda is found in baked goods, non-alcoholic beverage mixes, chewing gum, coffee products, sweet sauces, toppings, and even syrups. Since it has no effect on blood sugar and offers no calories, pregnant and lactating women can consume sucralose safely. .
Artificial Sweeteners That Are A Strict NO-NO
There are some artificial sweeteners that should be avoided at all costs. For example:
Saccharine or Sweet and Lo:
Even if not used so much nowadays, it’s best to stay away from saccharine as much as possible. This is because research has found that saccharine passes onto the placenta and may remain a part of the fetal tissue.
Currently banned in the US, it is unsafe to use during pregnancy.
We are not asking you to give up on your sweet tooth, however, we recommend that you consume artificial sweeteners in moderation. If you still crave for something sweet, talk to your healthcare provider. It is best to use foods that are naturally sweet to compensate. Think raisins, berries, winter squash, sweet potatoes, apples, almonds…the list goes on!